Last week we had a deluge of cyclist descend on our fair area. Over the week 3 sets of races took place. The largest of the 3 was the USA Cycling Jr./Under 23/Elite National Road Championships, which ran in conjunction with the Para-cycling National Road Championships. My partner and I spent the week shooting the action and the emotion of the races.
Racers from the age of 10 and up raced on a variety of courses around town. The younger juniors and para-athletes competed early in the week in a road race around the golf community of Tetherow, a criterium around North West Crossing and an individual time trial on Skyliner Road. The older athletes competed on a similar, but slightly longer, time trial course, a fast and furious 4 corner criterium course in downtown Bend, and the ever grueling road race course around Awbrey Butte.
The older racers were definitely exciting to watch, however I personally got a lot of personal inspiration from the younger and para athletes. Even though in some of the younger age groups there was marked disparity in ability, it was great to see the drive that these kids possessed to try their best and not give up regardless. The para-athletes, some with missing or deformed limbs and others who were blind, showed everyone what it’s about to enjoy the sheer thrill of competition and the determination to let nothing stand in their way. One para-athlete, Bend’s own Rachael Scdoris, is no stranger to high level competitions. Rachael, who is legally blind, has competed in the Iditarod Sleddog race in Alaska several time.
While the older athletes represent the immediate future of the sport, the younger ones represent the enduring nature of the sport. The para-athletes will continue to make an impression on me for many years to come, as they represent the drive and determination in the face of adversity that everyone needs to hold on to and strive to emulate.
Enjoy and stay inspired!